My F117 RST Nullarbor Adventure - Part 13
Tuesday Morning 3rd of May.
I sent Patricia the picture of the silver and orange trailer, as only she knew the full story and significance which led me to buying this truck.
My first ever long trip in a semi was with Eddy Holland in his old F700 Maxidyne pictured earlier. Later I would often jump in the F700 on school holidays or weekends to either help him load/unload, or to take a second trailer up to either Pt Augusta or Pimba.
CB radios were starting to appear around the time of the latter short trips, so Eddy gave me the job of listening and answering any calls. He suggested a Mack inspired call sign of “711” which I then used for years. One night at home earlier this year I discovered the “F Model Mack” Facebook page and started trolling through the pics. I found the old pic that I took of Eddy’s truck and then some guy bumped up the post of this F711 for sale by making an offer.
711 has always been a favourite number of mine since and when I found out the F700 I was interested in was actually a 711 and told the “711” story to Patricia, she just smiled and said “it's meant to be…”
With the morning lost at Pt Augusta, I was keen to get going after topping up the fuel. Thoughts of finding finding a hose shop were no longer on my mind. As I drove southward from the Roadhouse I appreciated the lower local speed limit to enable the Ol girl to warm up gently. As all the various distance signs popped up, I started thinking I could go via Adelaide if I had the time, see Mum and then drive back via Ouyen which is my preferred way of doing Adelaide to Sydney. Time wasn't on my side so I had to let that idea go, sorry Mum xox.
It had been many years since I'd been on this road. Since leaving Western Australia the day before, I had noticed the roads becoming rougher in the short wheel base Mack. The overtaking lanes were a welcome addition and came in handy, apart from the time that some moron in a ute decided to sit on 70-80 in a 100 zone and then speed up to 95-100 on two consecutive overtaking lanes. If only the air horns worked. Another one for the to do list…
Onwards to Port Pirie, a once long time base for my dear old mate Graeme Nickels who used to operate Pirie Freight Express out of there in an old cab over Benz. He's since retired at his eclectic old house in Dry Creek, along with 14 differing sized sheds on a traditional house block. Such a character and major influence in my life.
Crystal Brook is next and then up over the range with slowish bends and steep inclines. The Maxidyne was loving it! The sky was now overcast and she was gulping up the cold air. With the low end torque I could easily hold top gear in the 9 speed overdrive box with the weird shift pattern of 3-4 reversed. I could let the speed drop down below 60K’s in top gear on an uphill bend and then just a light touch of the throttle would effortlessly pull her up all of the inclines. Only once I found myself using full throttle to get her to pull up a particularly steep jump up.
A bladder stop at Spalding along with working out how to keep the cab ventilated from some fumes finding there way in with the side window closed. Both ¼ vents open and I opened the vent just under the windscreen. I had to stop within 5 minutes and it was way too cold with that vent fully open. My fix was to put a water bottle lid on the mesh filter and close the vent. This allowed fresh air to migrate up past my legs towards my face without being too cold.
The weather was closing and I hadn't tried out the air operated wipers to see if they work.
Just passed Burra down it came. So I tried my wiper without any luck. Turned on the passenger side control, it moved up and then stopped. Great! I found if I kept above 80K’s with windscreen cleared reasonably well. With the ¼ vents opened the screens were free of mist too. I switched on the roof lights and headlights and after one particular bad bump the dash lights started flickering and the volt meter dropping low whenever this happened. There had to be a short somewhere. So I flicked the headlight switch to parkers, but the problem remained. Next I tried turning those off and just left to roof/clearance lights on and the problem disappeared. The rain was becoming a little heavier now, so I elected to continue on as I could see the weather clearing off the the right in front of me. Please let those clear skies push a little north…
Another 15 minutes or so and the clear skies indeed came my way, so I decided to stop and have a look at the wiring as something must have rubbed through. I checked the wiring behind the headlights and where the trailer wiring would be fitted inside the chassis, nothing looked obviously wrong. I moved to the back and found the wiring to both tail lights strapped to the tipper pivot pin and could see where the wiring had rubbed through. The white earth wire was broken as well as the red brake wire to the left tail lamp. The brown tail light wire had rubbed through and was shorting out on the pivot mount. So I grabbed my tool bag which thankfully had grimp terminals and a grimping tool. I loosened up the wiring, rejoined them and taped them up for extra protection. I removed both tail light combo lenses and cleaned the bull dust off all the globes, re arranged the wiring so it had more give and cable tied it all back on. Every thing tested ok and I even jammed the hammer handle onto the brake pedal to test the brake lights. All good, and the left flasher now behaved as well as the volt meter whenever I pressed the brake pedal. I cleaned up all the cut tape, old ties etc, put them into a plastic bag and repacked it along with my tools into the tool box. Reapplied the same piece of duct tape to make sure the tool box stayed closed and got back on the road.